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What is in Soya milk?


Those who give up dairy often switch to soya milk, believing it’s a healthier alternative. But it’s difficult to say which is worse.

Let’s do a quick de-brief on dairy. In its commercial – supermarket - form, dairy is devoid of nutrients; as the pasteurisation process destroys vitamins, minerals and the lactase which you need to digest milk. There is also consistent and substantial evidence that higher milk consumption is linked with a greater risk of breast and prostate cancer. Not to mention the fact that a 240ml glass of conventional pasteurised dairy milk may legally contain up to 180 million pus cells.

So is soy better? In July 2005 researchers at Cornell University’s Program of Breast Cancer and Environmental Risk Factors warned that excessive soya food consumption can increase breast cell multiplication, putting women at greater risk of breast cancer. Other experts – including Dr. Kaayla Daniel, have warned that the phytoesgtrogens in soya are strong enough to cause ‘significant endocrine disruption.’

But you don’t need to scour the scientific literature to figure out that soy is not so good. You simply need to know how it’s made.

Making soya milk involves boiling the beans in a petroleum-based solvent, bleaching, deodorizing and pumping them full of additives[3], heat blasting and crushing them into flakes; and then mixing them with water to make ‘milk’ according to Dr. Al Sears, a holistic physician based in the US.

If that’s not enough to make you switch to an almond milk latte, then consider the glaring problem of genetic modification. Today, soya beans are often GM, and independent research from countries like Italy, Turkey and Denmark has linked GM foods to infertility, a weakened immune system, accelerate ageing, cancer, insulin control and changes in the liver, kidney and spleen.

Shop your non-soya, dairy-free milk in the Honestly Healthy Marketplace:

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Hi, so I’ve been advised to avoid dairy by my acupuncturist and I have to say that I’m feeling loads better. However, I’ve replaced yogurt (that I use in smoothies) with Alpro Soya – does this go through the same process?

Many thanks


Nov 29, 2015

laura bond:

All great questions, and fantastic there is so much engagement from the Honestly Healthy community!

With regards to your query about petroleum based solvents being used in soya production – this is absolutely true for SOME brands, but obviously not all brands.

The fact that major manufactures have used a ‘deodorising process similar to that used in oil refining’ is confirmed by Kaayla Daniel in her book The Whole Soy Story (pg 66) and fully referenced: Liu, KeShun Soybeans: Chemistry,Technology and Utilization (Gaithersburg Md Aspen 1999) pg 147

It’s also mentioned again in a recent Guardian Article:

‘Most soya sauces (and misos) are not made this way any more, however. Instead of using the whole bean, manufacturers short-cut the fermentation by starting with defatted soy protein meal. Soya veggie burgers and sausages generally use the same chemically extracted fraction of the bean.

This meal is the product of the industrial crushing process the vast majority of the world’s soya beans go through. The raw beans are broken down to thin flakes, which are then percolated with a petroleum-based hexane solvent to extract the soya oil. The remains of the flakes are toasted and ground to a protein meal, most of which goes into animal feed. Soya flour is made in a similar way.

The oil then goes through a process of cleaning, bleaching, degumming and deodorising to remove the solvent and the oil’s characteristic “off” smells and flavours. The lecithin that forms a heavy sludge in the oil during storage used to be regarded as a waste product, but now it has been turned into a valuable market in its own right as an emulsifier.

I prefer to have my morning porridge with the new Rude Health Almond milk (it contains simply almonds and water) and Oatly Organic Oat milk is also a good alternative (containing simply oats, sea salt and water).

It’s interesting to note that soya milk is not a traditional Japanese food. The first ‘soya dairy’ was founded in Northwest Paris in 1910 by a Chinese biologist.

We all need to make our own choices about the food we eat, based on the evidence available to us at the time.

Today, with the consumer engagement we have (great to see on display in this forum!) companies are becoming more accountable and having to be more honest about the processes they use, forcing many to adopt more natural means.

Still, with soya, I prefer to stick with the traditional fermented varieties – miso, tempeh, tamari – which show a host of benefits without the potential risk factors.

Wishing you all a happy health weekend.

Nov 27, 2015

Fiona :

I live in Sydney Australia and the soy milk I use is made from organic whole soybeans so I don’t think it’s GMO. I will be calling the company that supplies this to check and also ask about their process of making the milk. I don’t think that all soy companies, especially in different countries, use the same method of creating the milk and it’s not fair to say so in one article.

Nov 26, 2015


I’m assuming that organic soy is GMO free and is not processed with chemical solvents. Could you confirm please.

Nov 26, 2015


I have also written a post about the milk you buy these days and about the pasteurisation process. There is a war on the milk industry today especially on raw milk farm. US is the top producer of pasteurised milk and looks normal that there is a fight on this pie. Soy or almond may be an alternative, but from my point of view, raw cow milk still have the best nutritional advantages. It is a matter of choice, but as all other processed food, milk has its importance when you consume it in its original form.

Sep 20, 2015


Thanks so much for this article, interesting and even though I have been off soya for a year or so, I never knew how bad it was and drank it for years… dear me! Anyway, good to know. What is your opinion on the almond, rice or coconut milk powders which you mix with water. Are those ok to drink and does it have to be organic? Thanks :)

Sep 19, 2015


I agree with the first comment. Please see the link above to a good article on soya and check the evidence.

Sep 19, 2015

Carolina Sanchez:

Hi, your claims about petroleum based solvents being used in the production of soya drinks are very serious. Have you checked them? If not it seems unfair to be spreading a “rumour” just because someone with an MD title said so.
I’m not a soya fan myself but I consider it to be a healthy option if consumed in moderation. You haven’t mentioned that there are non-GM soya products widely available and also that studies claiming negative hormonal impact of soya are based on huge levels of consumption. I’m aware that the jury is still out on this but the “solvent claim” is too serious to be published so lightly.

Sep 18, 2015

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